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the meaning of a long sentence, and the mute did not seem to be in the least inconvenienced by his inability to enun
It would appear as if, in the different colonies of East and Central Africa, very few natives belonging to the households of Europeans speak the latter's language. This apparent ignorance, however, is open to doubt. It seems curious that 'boys' who are not supposed to understand a word of English or Portuguese should constantly be caught listening to their employers' conversation; and that vital secrets, exchanged between two Europeans, in the presence of natives who, when addressed directly in their master's language, reply only with a vacant stare, should, within twenty-four hours, inevitably become public property. Natives are as inquisitive as they are incapable of keeping a secret. The latter is a fortunate evil. Were negroes able to hold their tongues, there would not be a white man alive in Africa to-day.
Of course, the inaccuracies in the statements of negroes are, in the majority of cases, due to deliberate lying. But sometimes they are unpremeditated and unintentional.
It is extremely difficult to find, in native statements, the line of demarcation between deliberate falsehood, lapse of memory, and a congenital inability to distinguish accurately between the real and the unreal. They all lie, all, without a single exception, though in various degrees, and they themselves know and sometimes admit it; and I have met one, at least, who expressed to me, with apparently genuine feeling, his regret for this hereditary defect. The average native does not appear to see any fundamental difference between reality and imagination—a point of view for which, if they only knew it,
they could find a measure of justification in the writings of more than one philosopher.
For their lies, they have the funniest excuses. Some time ago I missed one of my men, and when I inquired after him, I got, from a lad named Mohammad, the answer: 'He has gone into the forest to dig for medicine.'
'What is the matter with him?' I asked.
'He has great pains in his head and stomach.'
Sometime later, Wasi- that was the absent man's name came back, carrying firewood, and when I asked him why he had not told me that he was ill, he was very much surprised. There was absolutely nothing the matter with him. I then soundly rated Mohammad for telling such lies, when my head-boy interfered by saying in a conciliatory tone, 'He did not lie, master. He said it only to make conversation.'
Native logic runs in grooves different from ours, often in an exactly contrary direction. When I listen to their arguments, I am often reminded of Leonard da Vinci's famous reversed drawing of the castle of Amboise. On one occasion, one of my boys told me that another boy had told him something, which, although a matter of small importance, he was not supposed to communicate to others. I taxed this other boy with having betrayed my confidence, but he flatly denied having spoken. I confronted them both, and a friendly dispute ensued, which led to no result. I then said to the boy who, according to the other, had spoken without leave, 'Why are you not angry with Soliman for telling such a lie about you?' To which he smilingly replied, 'No! I am not angry! Why should I be angry? He lied! If he had spoken the truth, then I should be angry.'
(A further paper by Mr. Coudenhove will appear later.)
KNIGHTS AND TURCOPOLIERS
BY WILLIAM MCFEE
He came out of the Strada Mezzodi running, shoulders back, gloves and cane held bosom-high in his clenched fists, like an athlete's corks, the whole body of the man pulsing and glowing from the ascent of that precipitous slot. Came out into the Strada Reale, and brought up against me with a squashing thump that left us limp and uncertain of the future.
He took off his cap and mopped his swiftly sloping forehead with the heel of his hand - an original and unforgettable gesture. There he was, unchanged and unchangeable, a knotty sliver of England, exactly the same, save for the Naval Reserve uniform, as when, some nine years before, I had seen him barging his way into the shipping office in North Shields, to sign off articles, for he was going away home to Newcastle, to get married.
There he was, ready-witted as ever, for he demanded with incredible rapidity of utterance what the h- I thought I was doing, and recognized me even as he asked. He was, for all his doeskin uniform and characteristically shabby lace and gloves, the same scornful, black-browed, hook-nosed truculent personality. Small, yet filling the picture like bigger men by reason of his plunging restlessness, his disconcerting circumlocution of body, he vibrated before me, even now, an incarnate figure of interrogation. He found breath and voice, and shook my hand in a limp, lifeless fashion that convey
ed an uncanny impression of its being his first timorous experiment in handshaking- another peculiar and paradoxical by-product of his personality.
He turned me round and propelled me back along the Strada Reale. He said the man I wanted to see at the Base Office was away playing polo, and I could see him in the morning. He asked where my baggage was; and when I told him, he said the Regina was the worst hotel in town and there was a room vacant next to his in the Angleterre. He turned me suddenly into the entrance hall of a vast structure of stone, where in the cool darkness diminished humans sat in tiny chairs and read the news-telegrams at microscopic notice-boards. An ornate inscription informed me that this place had been the auberge of the Knights of the Tongue of Provence; but he said it was the Union Club. He examined a row of pigeonholes and took out some letters.
We sallied forth into the afternoon sunlight again, and he hurried me along toward the Piazza de San Giorgio. A captain and two commanders passed, and I saluted, but my companion spun round a corner into the declivity called the Strada San Lucia, and muttered that his salutes were all over and done with. Scandalized, yet suspecting in my unregenerate heart that here lay a tale that might be told in the twilight, I made no reply. Another turn into the fitly named Strada
Stretta, no more than a congregation of stone staircases largely monopolized by goats with colossal udders and jingling bells, and we hurtled into the archway of an enormous mediæval building whose iron gate shut upon us with a clang like a new-oiled postern.
And as we ascended the winding stone stairs there came down to us a medley of persons and impressions. There were far gongs and musical cries pierced by a thin continuous whine. There was a piratical creature, with fierce eyes and an alarming shock of upstanding black hair, who wielded a mop and stared with voracious curiosity. There came bounding down upon us a boy of eleven or so, with brown hair, a freckled nose, and beautiful gray eyes. There descended a buxom woman of thirty, modest and capable to the eye, yet with a sort of tarnish of sorrowful experience in her demeanor. And behind her, walking abreast and in step, three astounding apparitions, Russian guardsmen, — in complete regalia, blue and purple and bright gold, so fabulous that one stumbled and grew afraid. Mincingly they descended, in step, their close-shaven polls glistening, their small eyes and thin long legs giving them the air of something dreamed, bizarre adumbrations of an order gone down in ruin and secret butchery to a strangled silence.
A high, deep, narrow gothic doorway on a landing stood open, and we edged through.
I had many questions to ask. I was reasonably entitled to know, for example, the charges for these baronial halls and gigantic refectories. I had a legitimate curiosity concerning the superb beings who dwelt, no doubt, in mediaval throne-rooms in distant wings of the château. And above all I was wishful to learn the recent history of Mr. Eustace Heatly, sometime second engineer of the old S.S. Dolores, late
engineer lieutenant, and now before my eyes tearing off his coat and vest and pants, and bent double over a long black coffin-like steel chest, whence he drew a suit of undeniable tweeds. But it was only when he had abolished the last remaining trace of naval garniture by substituting a cerise poplin cravat for the black affair worn in memory of the late Lord Nelson, and a pair of brown brogues for the puritanical messboots of recent years, that Heatly turned to where I sat on the bed and looked searchingly at me from under his higharched, semi-circular black eyebrows.
He was extraordinarily unlike a naval officer now. Indeed, he was unlike the accepted Englishman. He had one of those perplexing personalities that are as indigenous to England as the Pennine Range and the Yorkshire Wolds, as authentic as Stonehenge; yet, by virtue of their very perplexity, have a difficulty in getting into literature. There was nothing of the tall, blond, silent Englishman about this man, at all. Yet there was probably no mingling of foreign blood in him since Phoenician times. He was entirely and utterly English. He can be found in no other land, and yet is to be found in all lands, generally with a concession from the government and a turbulent band of assistants. His sloping simian forehead was growing bald, and it gleamed as he came over to where I sat. His jaws, blue from the razor, creased as he drew back his chin and began his inevitable movement of the shoulders that preluded speech. He was English, and was about to prove his racial affinity beyond all cavil.
'But why get yourself demobilized out here?' I demanded, when he had explained. 'Is there a job to be had?'
'Job!' he echoed, eyebrows raised, as he looked over his shoulder with apparent animosity. Job! There's a fortune out here! See this,'
He dived over the bed to where his uniform lay, and extracted from the breast-pocket a folded sheet of gray paper. Inside was a large roughly penciled tracing of the Eastern Mediterranean. There was practically no nomenclature. An empty Italy kicked at an equally vacuous Sicily. Red blots marked ports. The seas were spattered with figures, as in a chart, marking soundings. And laid out in straggling lines, like radiating constellations, were green and yellow and violet crosses. From Genoa to Marseilles, from Marseilles to Oran, from Port Said and Alexandria to Cape Bon, from Salonika to Taranto, those polychromatic clusters looped and clotted in the sea-lanes, until the eye, roving at last toward the intricate configuration of the Cyclades, caught sight of the Sea of Marmora, where the green symbols formed a closely woven texture.
'Where did you get this?' I asked, amazed; and Heatly smoothed the crackling paper as it lay between us on the bed. His shoulders worked and his chin drew back, as if he were about to spring upon me.
"That's telling,' he grunted. "The point is, do you want to come in on this? These green ones, y' understand, are soft things, in less 'n ten fathom. The yellows are deeper. The others are too big or too deep for us.'
'Who's us?' I asked, beginning to feel an interest beyond his own personality.
He began to fold up the chart, which had no doubt come by unfrequented ways from official dossiers.
"There's the skipper and the mate and meself,' he informed me; 'but we can do with another engineer. - Come in with us!' he ejaculated; 'it's the chance of a lifetime. You put up five hundred, and it's share and share alike.'
I had to explain, of course, that what he suggested was quite impossible. I
was not demobilized. I had to join a ship in dock-yard hands. Moreover, I had no five hundred to put up.
He did not press the point. It seemed to me that he had simply been the temporary vehicle of an obscure wave of sentiment. We had been shipmates in the old days. He had never been a friend of mine, it must be understood. We had wrangled and snarled at each other over hot and dirty work, and had gone our separate ways ashore, and he had rushed from the shipping-office that day in Shields and never even said good-bye ere he caught the train to Newcastle and matrimony. Yet here now, after nine years, he abruptly offered me a fortune! The slow inexorable passage of time had worn away the ephemeral scoria of our relations and laid bare an unexpected vein of durable esteem. Even now, as I say, he did not press the point. He was loath to admit any emotion beyond a gruff solicitude for my financial aggrandizement.
While we were bickering amiably on these lines, the high, narrow door opened, and the buxom woman appeared with a tea-tray. She smiled and went over to the embrasured window, where there stood a table. As she stood there, in her neat black dress and white apron, her dark hair drawn in smooth convolutions about her placid brows, her eyes declined upon the apparatus on the tray, she had the air of demure sophistication and sainted worldliness to be found in lady prioresses and mother superiors when dealing with secular aliens. She was an intriguing anomaly in this stronghold of ancient and militant celibates. The glamour of her individual illusion survived even the introduction that followed.
"This is Emma,' said Heatly, as if indicating a natural but amusing feature of the landscape; 'Emma, an old shipmate o' mine. Let him have that
room next to this. Anybody been?'
'Yes,' said Emma in a soft, gentle voice, 'Captain Gosnell rang up. He wants to see you at the usual place.'
"Then I'll be going,' said Heatly, drinking tea standing, a trick abhorred by those who regard tea as something of a ritual. 'Lay for four at our table to-night, and send to the Regina for my friend's gear. And mind, no games!'
He placed his arm about her waist. Then, seizing a rakish-looking deerstalker, he made for the door, and halted abruptly, looking back upon us with apparent malevolence. Emma smiled without resigning her pose of sorrowful experience, and the late engineer lieutenant slipped through the door and was gone.
So there were to be no games. I looked at Emma, and stepped over to help myself to tea. There were to be no games. Comely as she was, there was no more likelihood of selecting the cloistral Emma for trivial gallantry than of pulling the admiral's nose. I had other designs on Emma. I had noted the relations of those two with attention, and it was patent to me that Emma could tell me a good deal more about Heatly than Heatly knew about himself. Heatly was that sort of man. He would be a problem of enigmatic opacity to men, and a crystalclear solution to the cool, disillusioned
And Emma told. Women are not only implacable realists, they are unconscious artists. They dwell always in the Palace of Unpalatable Truth, and never by any chance is there a magic talisman to save them from their destiny. Speech is their ultimate need. We exist for them only in so far as we can be described. As the incarnate travesties of a mystical ideal, we inspire ecstasies of romantic supposition. There is a rapt expression on the features of a woman telling about a man.
Duty and pleasure melt into one suffusing emotion and earth holds for her no holier achievement. And so, as the reader is ready enough to believe, there were no games. Apart from her common urbane humanity, Emma's lot in life, as the deserted wife of a Highland sergeant deficient in emotional stability, had endowed her with the smooth efficiency of a character in a novel. She credited me with a complete inventory of normal virtues and experiences, and proceeded to increase my knowledge of life.
The point of her story, as I gathered, was this. My friend Heatly, in the course of the years, had completed the cycle of existence without in any degree losing the interest of women. I knew he was married. Emma informed me that they had seven children. The youngest had been born six months before. Where? Why, in the house in Gateshead, of course. Did I know Gateshead? I did. As I sat in that embrasured window and looked down the thin, deep slit of the Strada Lucia, past green and saffron balconies and jutting shrines, to where the Harbor of Marsamuscetto showed a patch of solid dark blue below the distant perfection of Sheina, I thought of Gateshead, with the piercing East Coast wind ravening along its gray, dirty streets, with its frowsy fringe of coalstaithes standing black and stark above the icy river, and I heard the grind and yammer of the grimy street-cars striving to drown the harsh boom and crash from the great yards of Elswick on the far bank. I saw myself again hurrying along in the rain, a tired young man in overalls, making hurried purchases of gear and tobacco and rough gray blankets, for the ship was to sail on the turn of the tide. And I found it easy to see the small two-story house half-way